July is basically all about my birthday. Which means more riding, and new toys such as these wireless, bone conducting headphones which are currently keeping me entertained on my daily Tour de France stage to work. (Because of course, July is also all about the Tour. In fact, some of you may even consider that more important than my birthday.)
My wife Julia has been rightly concerned for years that as I crank up the volume on my ride home through the Devon lanes, it's probably a miracle I haven't yet been taken out by a car or tractor. I'm basically oblivious to everything but Hawkwind and the pedals. It's a bonafide form of meditation of course. But road safe it ain't. Which is where my new headphones come in.
Like many of you, I really enjoy tunes to motivate me whilst I’m riding. Most of my Strava KoMs have been set to a soundtrack of Slayer or similar. And other times I might enjoy listening to podcasts or an audio book.
However, being able to hear the world around you is a much safer proposition, which is why bone conducting technology is becoming more popular. You can get wireless headphones, or even sunglasses that sit on the bones just in front of your ears. These then conduct the soundwaves to your eardrum, bypassing the outer ear.
Initially developed for military use, this technology is now widely available and (relatively) affordable. In terms of sound quality they certainly beat my off the shelf sports headphones, and they certainly look cooler too, more ‘Star trek’ (Next Gen obvs) than Plug from the Bash St Kids. Also with standard headphones, I experienced serious wind noise on faster sections of my ride, whereas with the Aftershox Titanium headphones (see picture) the words or tunes remain audible. (But no, fellow tech geeks. In spite of the label, they’re not really Titanium. Boo.)